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The PLEX Story We’ve All Been Waiting For… August 9, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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PLEX, the in-game item you can buy from other players in EVE Online that lets you extend your subscription to the game by 30 day.

CCP recently unlocked the restrictions on PLEX in game.   Previously, you could not move PLEX.  It had to stay in a station where it was safe.  Or at least safer.

Now, however, PLEX is an item like most everything else in New Eden.  It can be moved, sold, shipped, and destroyed.

So I have been waiting for the first real big PLEX loss item to show up.

And now we have it.

Reported over at Massively, a player carrying 74 PLEX, worth nearly $1,300 in real life and over 22 billion ISK in-game, had his ship blow up in Jita.

Should have chosen something bigger than a Kestrel.

And all the PLEX was destroyed.

Poof.

Gone.

Welcome to EVE Online.

[Addendum - The EVE Player News posting about this is here, while the main forum thread appears to be here.  Special thanks to Galo and his post here.]

Comments»

1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green - August 9, 2010

That’s ugly.

I can’t imagine that’s going to stand, though. There’s going to be an angry call to the CS call center about this. I suspect that CCP would be foolish to not give a lot of compensation here, even if the pilot in question was being rather foolish. I’d bet there will be some special rules coming up soon about PLEX that are destroyed rather than looted, too.

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2. Vok - August 9, 2010

Oh. My. God. I love this game

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3. Julie Whitefeather - August 9, 2010

There is a tendency in Eve to say “oh well it’s just a tough place” but this is too great a sum of money (not just virtual currency because it was plex) for CCP to simply say “so what” – doing so would have serious long term implications including the possibility of opening the door for a law suit, if nothing else BECAUSE the plex were destroyed and not looted.

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4. Noizy - August 9, 2010

I don’t know about that lawsuit. From what I’ve been able to piece together, largely based comments on the KM on the Space Monkey’s kill boards (now deleted), this probably was an operation using an alliance’s funds to make some profits and not someone who had just purchased the PLEX. I think you would have to prove you purchased the PLEX to have a shot at winning in court.

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5. mbp - August 9, 2010

A small fast frigate like a kestrel can be pretty hard to catch in high security space if it is flown around using warp to zero. I wonder how they got him – was it lag or smart bombs or something?

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6. Baa - August 9, 2010

What if they’d sold 74 PLEX and bought a Faction fitted Supercarrier and lost that? Would there be the same outrage?

Everything in EVE has an ISK value. Those ISK can be reimbursed for gametime via a PLEX. There is no reason for having to move PLEX in this manner, this was a risk taken by the pilot. They lost.

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7. We Fly Spitfires - August 9, 2010

You’d think that in a world as sophisticated as New Eden they would’ve developed some sort of guaranteed insured courier service or bank-to-bank transfer :P

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8. Shock and Awe At 23 Billion ISK PLEX Loss & the Complete Ape Shit Coolant Market « Ardent Defender - August 9, 2010

[...] player recently suffered in EVE Online. This already been posted on by Dense Veldspar, over on The Ancient Gaming Noob as well as reading it on Massively and who knows what other national news service and magazine it [...]

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9. Saithir - August 9, 2010

@Psychochild – why should CCP compensate anything? It’s a risk that player took, and paid the price for it. Very high price, that’s true – but still he had to knew his ship could be destroyed (the attackers are known for declaring wars against alliances, you know you are in a state of war with them, and you can see them marked as blinking red in space and in local chat channel), yet still he undocked in something so fragile with a cargo that I’d be scared to even have in my hangar.

He didn’t lose it because of a bug or anything, he lost it because of his stupidity. CCP is obviously not responsible for any player’s actions, so what the lawsuit would be about exactly?

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10. SynCaine - August 9, 2010

Lovely EVE. Good stuff here, and while $1300 might be a decent amount of money when compared to sparkle ponies, a blowout fleet battle with super cap losses can top that, so why would CCP get involved here?

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11. Wilhelm2451 - August 9, 2010

Oh yes, we’ll be hearing about this for a while as it opens a can of worms.

Should PLEX be special since it is something on which you spend real world money?

What is the threshold for compensation, if they decide this guy should be given something? If I lose 74 PLEX and get something, how do you tell the guy who lost a single PLEX that he gets nothing?

What are the legal implications? In California, stealing something over $500 in value constitutes Grand Theft and can get you some jail time?

And what if the guys who blew up the ship recovered some of all of the PLEX? Could I sue them in small claims court?

Yup, this story has a ways to go.

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12. Orkanen - August 9, 2010

The reason CCP might get involved is that PLEX is psychologically a lot closer to being real money than anything else in the game. That’s the same reason for the restrictions in the first place. Also, an online game where someone can lose $1,300 in a few seconds is going to sound bad if the non-gaming press gets ahold of it. Probably won’t happen though.

As for the Kestrel, yeah, a Kestrel is kind of hard to catch, but not as hard as an Interceptor or a Covert Ops ship or maybe even a fast cloaky Transport. I don’t think PLEX takes up any space, so even a Shuttle could carry them, and those things are hard to kill.

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13. Toldain - August 9, 2010

I don’t think the problem was that he used a kestrel, frigates would work pretty well for this kind of thing. The problem is that he was very likely sitting in space. The attackers had enough time to scan him, lock him, and then shoot him. They would not have enough time if he hadn’t been lingering. My personal choice for transporting plex would be a shuttle, with NO autopilot, and no stopping.

@Psychochild, from the announcements they made and ensuing discussion, I think they have their legal position pretty firmly establshed that PLEX are an in-game-only item. They do not replace your ship when it gets blown up, PLEX is just another kind of cargo.

To get a PLEX, you first buy a Game Time Code (GTC). You convert it to a PLEX as a deliberate act. In order to use it to extend your subscription, it is not necessary to take it out of a station, you can use them remotely. Finally, there is no way to redeem them for cash. So nobody intending to use them has any reason whatsoever to undock with them. The kestrel pilot was intending to do arbitrage with in-game currency.

I think the legal position is strengthened by analogy to gift cards. If you buy a gift card, give it to someone else, and they lose it, you’re stuck. In point of fact, something like half of all gift cards purchased are never redeemed.

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14. Wilhelm2451 - August 9, 2010

@Toldain – You can buy PLEX directly without a GTC and the only option you have once you have purchased it is which character to redeem it with.

The hole in the gift card analogy is that if somebody steals your gift cards, that is still a crime. And since these gift cards have to stay in a special place where the issuing company has control over the environment, there is plenty of legal precedent for the company to be found liable for negligence in not keeping said environment safe. Sue CONCORD!

CCP is in an unenviable position. To do nothing will lead to problems. To give a refund opens the door to “I lost my Titan. I paid for it in ISK I got via PLEX. I want a refund.”

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15. Beowolf Schaefer - August 9, 2010

The same day I saw a killmail for a Rorqual being lost in 0.0 with about 154Bil (roughly 7 times as much value) in BPOs and assets. I have yet to see anyone reporting on this.

Plex is Isk the same as every other asset in the game. These guys didn’t even necessarily buy these plex for RL money. They may have bought them off the market. There is absolutely no more reason to reimburse this loss than any other loss in EvE.

People who play games where you all you do is collect assets and have a unidirectional arch within game do not understand that EvE is a game of risk assessment and risk management.

Every time you undock you determine the level of risk you are willing to accept. It is the same as when you place a bet on a hand of poker. If you lose the hand the only one you can blame for the loss is yourself.

This guy lost, bad. Better luck next time.

PS Some bastards popped my nullsec POS last night. I bought some GTCs last year. Maybe I can file a suit?

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16. Julie Whitefeather - August 9, 2010

The possibility of a lawsuit does not arise because of lost in game items – it arises because of what was lost and implied warrantee of merchantability (emphasis on possibility). It will be interesting to see how, or if, CCP reacts to this.

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17. Wilhelm2451 - August 9, 2010

And, furthermore, CCP had previously given PLEX special status and safeguards because it was different (see my screen shot in the post, it is of the old PLEX description), then they removed those safeguards.

There is no easy answer here.

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18. Orkanen - August 9, 2010

I’ll bet the Terms and Conditions of Service do a pretty good job of innoculating CCP from lawsuits. My guess is that a player who got a few thousand in PLEX blown up would have no way to calculate damages. After all, you can turn money into PLEX, but there’s no (legal) way to turn PLEX into money. The people who lost that $1300 were never going to get it back. Thus, they suffered no loss that a court would care about.

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19. Julie Whitefeather - August 9, 2010

@ Orkanen: Here’s the problem, at least from the standpoint of Tort Law (I used to be a paralegal) you can’t waive your own liability. And the concept of implied warantee of merchantibility is not about turning the plex back in to money, but rather has to do with CCP directly creating a situation that negated the ability to use the plex for the purpose it was meant for. If it were me I would simply refund the plex, and put the safety measures for plex back in place and call it a day.

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20. Wilhelm2451 - August 9, 2010

@Orkanen – But there is a very easy way to calculate real, tangible damages. PLEX is good for exactly one thing: 30 Days of Game time.

The player essentially lost 2,220 days of play time in the game.

In a game where you must pay a subscription fee to play, calculating the real world value of 2,220 days is very straight forward.

So while I see what you are saying, I don’t think it is that simple because PLEX occupies a strange spot in the game landscape. It is a token that can be redeemed for something with real world value.

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21. Beowolf Schaefer - August 9, 2010

@Julie – CCP delivered the plexes in a manner in which they were absolutely usable for the intended purpose. The player then chose not to use the plex for that purpose and instead (likely with the intent of making a profit) undocked with them in his cargo taking the potential risk onto himself. The player gambled that the profit on these items would outweigh the risks. He was wrong this time.

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22. sid67 - August 9, 2010

“[...]From CCP’s perspective, it’s a paid subscription they no longer need to honor that has been destroyed. Unlike the virtual Ore that gets mined, someone paid real money for that PLEX card. A game card that will never be redeemed if it is destroyed.

And what happens to the real life dollars? Those aren’t destroyed. They stay in CCP’s bank account.[...]”
-Destroying PLEX for $$$$ (Serial Ganker)

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23. Brian 'Psychochild' Green - August 10, 2010

Saithir wrote:
@Psychochild – why should CCP compensate anything?

Because if they don’t, they open up a whole lot of uncomfortable issues, as others have pointed out. The difference between PLEX and ISK is that you buy PLEX directly with money, so it has an actual monetary value. ISK cannot directly be bought with money and (much more importantly) a player is not allowed to transfer ISK back into cash. (Turning PLEX into cash is a more complex issue, but at the very least one could request a chargeback from their credit card company if they decide they didn’t want the PLEX; this might lead to CCP punishing you for what could be considered fraud.)

When I was running Meridian 59, we had a rule that you were solely responsible for your own account security. “Being hacked” was always your own fault and we would take no responsibility for any losses. Did this mean we never helped people out who were “hacked”? No. But, it meant we had the ultimate escape clause in case we thought something fishy was going on, because the rules said we weren’t obligated. I suspect this is the same thing as what CCP has.

The other issue at work here is the law, as Julie Whitefeather points out. Although one can argue that PLEX are purely an in-game item, I don’t think you can say that exactly. They deal with an issue external to the game, paying for the game service. This sets it aside from other “virtual items” like in-game mounts that only deal with aspects in game. I think one of the big worries is that the courts won’t see this distinction, and complicate “virtual items” for everyone.

It’s also important to know that there are a lot of laws that exist for “cash equivalent” type items. In California, there are some specific rules concerning gift cards, such as they (generally) can’t expire, can’t have inactivity fees, etc. There are even laws concerning frequent flyer miles as well since they can be used to buy something of value. I think it’s entirely reasonable to consider that governments might start considering laws for virtual items that have an obvious cash equivalent such as PLEX. But, as I said above, it might be a bit more harmful if the governments decide to apply this to a wider class of virtual items; I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest except in corner cases.

However, the more I think about this the more I wonder if this isn’t a setup by CCP. Seems funny someone would carry so many PLEX in one go and would have that many without taking EVERY reasonable precaution. It makes sense that CCP might stage something like this to get some more PR for their game. It seems people really love schadenfreude type stories coming from EVE.

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24. Aufero - August 10, 2010

He was moving 74 PLEX at once through Jita… in a Kestrel??

While I’m sure CCP was anticipating some player drama over the recent change, I’m not sure they were quite prepared for this level of poor decision making.

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25. DannyRansom - August 10, 2010

People really need to stop forgetting that a number of ships cost plenty more than the sum of money that was lost here.

CCP doesn’t reimburse someone who loses a Titan, even if they used only PLEX to fund it. (That would be closer to the tune 0f 350 PLEX, according to some estimates I’ve seen.)

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26. Ouch « Intellimoo’s Corner - August 10, 2010

[...] pm Filed under: (Dumb) People,EVE News of the guy who lost 74 PLEX in a Kestrel in Jita has been making the rounds. Frankly I’m not altogether surprised, as I think many people expected something like this to [...]

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27. Hello from the shallow end of the pool - August 10, 2010

[...] made over at The Ancient Gaming Noob (another of our must reads) you can read the entire article here.[] Most important is comment 23 by Brian [...]

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28. PeterD - August 10, 2010

Do we know the plex were even purchased with money? They could have been purchased with ISK for transport to a system where they could be sold at a profit. They’re a high value low volume product, making them perfect for playing the market. If the guy had lost 22 billion in tier 3 components would anyone have noticed? PLEX can’t be coverted back to cash, so this story only matters if the plex really were bought with cash by the person that lost them.

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29. ManofFewWords - August 11, 2010

Casinos do not replace lost chips.

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30. Wilhelm2451 - August 11, 2010

Casinos do not replace lost chips.

But they do comp rooms, drinks, and all sorts of other things to keep people in them and spending money.

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31. bluelinebasher - August 12, 2010

CCP replaced a ship of mine before via petition, but not the cargo. I imagine the appeal process if he cited jita-lag would refund this guy 1 kestrel (which is probably more salt in the wound). Always worth a try, but I don’t see CCP refunding this (nor should they be obligated to since Plex’s are treated like everything else). We were expecting a story like this to hit, were we not?

The only bad publicity is no publicity. Having dollar amounts attached to Eve stories of woe adds main stream excitement. I think it would be a bad move for CCP to give a refund. If CCP goes back and makes Plex a special item again (after lets say numerous complaints and a review from whatever political stellar management team they have), would they even restore any lost items over this window of time? Probably not. It was probably a mistake to make Plex special in the first place.

I think the response about Eve being like poker is pretty spot on. Winning and losing has more weight to it, which sets Eve apart. It’s certainly not for everyone.

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